“Are you always going to be a nothing mom?”

His eyes were blue and earnest and yet I could already see the bruise forming where his words had hit, knowing it would only grow darker and more tender.

The question was innocent enough, and I knew what he meant. I had only recently quit my part time non profit work to be fully, wholly home. He was wondering if this was a permanent situation or a temporary one.

And the truth is: I don’t have the answer.

All I know is that this morning we walked along the straw shore, the same earnest boy hiding a blackened square of driftwood in the sand, under the weeds — and asking me to find it again, again, again.  Afterward, they scootered down the big hill and our babe skinned his elbow, twice.

I held him as he sobbed, cross legged on the middle of the paved path. His arms gripped my neck, pressing his pain into me — my body his comfort, as it had always been.  He’s the babe who will shift my sleeves up to rest his cheek on my bare arm, who will sling his still plush hand across my chest in the middle of the night.

I am alive in their love, awake to the honor of nurturing them mind and body and soul. This rarely looks as poetic as it sounds, rarely feels romantic or perfect. But, I know it in my bones: I am home.

It is easy for shame to seep in the cracks of this proclamation: could I really be this content, this fulfilled, by something as monotonous as motherhood? Worse yet: is my peace an insult to those who find themselves in a different season or situation? The most persistent fear of all: am I offending my former or future selves by waving this banner of peace and clarity in being home and happy and whole? Will it always be this way?

Or am I simply allowed to sit in this moment, hollowed by their love, and let my contentment echo there.

If I tell you I’m happy here, can that make room for you to tell me you are happy there, too? Wherever you are in your motherhood: waiting, working, wondering: I have space for you to be confident and at peace too, for you to be amazed at how complex it all is, and how very simple.

The world needs women on fire, wherever they are — and in this season my embers may burn low, solely seen by those close to me, but they are hot and they sustain all the same.

We go on a walk at dusk, all five of us. The dog trots alongside my husband as I wonder at the sunset, at the open space, at the reality of them: ours. We pause as the middle one attempts to climb another tree, grateful he is already wearing a helmet as he precariously swings from a geriatric branch.

I watch as they pile the rocks, largest to smallest, eight of them and I feel proud, just last week I had taught them how to build a cairn in the wild.

We check on the teepee they made out of sticks at their “secret club,” a space our neighbors only know as a dead end near a farm field. The sticks have blown over, but they are distracted by the dandelions nearby. They carefully collect them, and press them into my palm, a fistful of too-short stems.

“Here, mom”

It’s  not a glowing review, a letter of recommendation or a promotion.  It’s barely anything, a handful of weeds on a weeknight, but it doesn’t feel like nothing.

Some people learn from the love they experience for their children, and I have certainly felt a new depth of God’s mercy there.  But it more rarely discussed how our children’s love for us wakes us to wonder again.  The way they see my very best and my very worst, the way they forgive quickly and love aggressively, with zero restraint.  The way they never want me to be too far from them.

It is sacred and it is something.

I am something.

I am theirs.